Godzilla takes on an environmental cause in 1971 film

Most of Godzilla’s movies could be considered thinly veiled cautionary tales, whether it be in respect to the effects of nuclear testing or trying to manipulate the environment to fulfill the greedy desires of man. This is most prominent in the 1971 flick Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (also known as Godzilla vs. Hedorah), where the big lizard does battle with a creature made from pollution. It has its moments, and veers from a darker tone to a more comedic one during the end of the movie.

(trailer courtesy of horrormovieshows)

The plot had the creature beginning as a tadpole spawned from the pollution feeding into Tokyo Bay, and growing larger and more grotesque, eventually being able to transform into a flying creature that spewed toxic fumes over the land below. Godzilla arrives to fight the menace, being portrayed in this film as a protector of the Earth. Again, as in Godzilla’s Revenge, a small child proves to be a catalyst in bringing Godzilla in to save the day. The metaphors in the movie weren’t exactly subtle- Hedorah was clearly the embodiment of the rising pollution problem and the harm it was doing to the environment, while Godzilla was representative of Nature fighting back. The effects were a mixed bag, but it was overall enjoyable in its own way.gvtsm

The film marked several changes for Godzilla.Yoshimitsu Banno took over the director’s chair from Ishiro Honda. Originally, a sequel was planned, which was going to be set in Africa, but longtime Godzilla producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was reportedly so unhappy with the film and Banno, saying that Banno had ruined the series. Tanaka wanted a more conventional Godzilla movie to follow this one, and so a “Smog” sequel was never made. This is also the only film that had Godzilla fly, by pointing his atomic breath at the ground and hurling himself backwards through the air. This was also the last picture to be released by American International Pictures.

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster may not have been the best received film (it did make the list of the Fifty Worst Films of All Time) but it did continue the trend of Godzilla being the good guy and a staunch protector of the Earth. He would return in four more movies in the 70s, before taking a ten year hiatus. More on those films in our next installment of the month long salute to Godzilla.

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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